Money Wellness
Image of a couple kissing behind a bunch of red heart balloons. 60% of people spending less on Valentine's Day due to cost of living crisis
category iconMoney Wellness
calendar icon09 Feb 2024

The UK’s cost-of-loving crisis – has Valentine’s had its day?

Loved up couples are looking for less expensive and more meaningful ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, according to a survey by Money Wellness, an organisation providing free debt and money advice.

The cost-of-living crisis has wreaked havoc on household finances up and down the country. And the squeeze is also affecting the National Day of Love, with 60% of people surveyed saying they’ll spend less this Valentine’s Day because of pressure on their finances.

Those living in West Yorkshire (85%), the East Midlands (80%) and the North West (80%) are the most generous when it comes to Valentine’s Day treats, with saying they will spend up to £50.

Spending time together more important than spending cash

And it’s not how much cash you splash that matters most apparently, with 70% of all respondents thinking their partner values the quality time they spend together more than anything else. Those in the West Midlands and Liverpool believe this to be most true, with a quarter of Scousers saying that making their partner laugh is ‘more important than any gift they could buy’ and 85% of Brummies saying, ‘you don’t need a special day to show someone you love them.’

Only 2% of those surveyed said their partner values the amount of money they spend on them on Valentine’s Day above anything else.

Men digging deeper than women

Men in all regions are planning on spending more than women on Valentine’s gifts, with over a third of males saying they’ll spend up to £50 while a similar proportion of females are prepared to set aside no more than £10. In Manchester, 20% more men than women are really prepared to go to town by spending up to an impressive £100.

Has Valentine’s had its day?

The majority of couples feel Valentine’s celebrations have had their day, with that sentiment being most widely felt in the North East (75%) and East Midlands (71%).

Many say social media had turned the tradition into something too commercialised and has created too much pressure to spend money.

Other comments included:

  • ‘it has lost its purpose’
  • ‘because of price rises, people can’t afford to pay out for it’
  • ‘it’s not romantic any longer. It’s not about love anymore, it’s now just spend, spend, spend’

Sian Westley, money saving expert at Money Wellness, said: “While looking at Valentine’s Day spending up and down the country is a bit of fun, it belies the true extent of the hardship millions of households’ face because of high living costs.

“Valentine’s Day can be a costly business, stretching already tight budgets to breaking point. Feeling obliged to splash out on expensive gifts can cause unnecessary stress, debt and worry. Don’t feel you have to spend money you don’t have, as your significant other would probably prefer a thoughtful gesture or to spend quality time with you.”

Our top tips for a budget-friendly celebration

Here are Money Wellness’ top tips to plan the perfect Valentine’s Day, without breaking the bank.

Stay cosy and eat in

Prep a gorgeous meal from scratch to show you care. If your budget for food is especially tight, use apps like Olio, where you can pick up food for free donated by people locally who don’t need it. Or Too Good To Go, which offers surprise bargains from big name restaurants and shops such as Pizza Express, Greggs, Yo Shushi, Co Op, Aldi and Morrisons. You’ll receive a mystery bag of goodies that you can whip into a feast fit for a king using websites like SuperCook and RecipeLand.

Utilise memberships and subscriptions

Check your memberships and subscriptions as many offer ‘two for one’ cinema tickets or money off at restaurants. Also check out voucher sites like Voucher Codes or TopCashback which have dedicated Valentine’s Day savings’ pages where you can bag a bargain.

If you’ve got a swanky gym membership, why not see if they offer guest passes so you can spend the evening relaxing around the pool or getting sweaty in the sauna.

Create a special playlist

Music is great for arousing memories and feelings. A great way to show you care – especially if you’re not good with words – is to create a playlist of the songs that are special to you as a couple.

Change the date

Who says you have to celebrate Valentine’s Day on Feb 14? Don’t get involved in the hype. Prices tend to be increased for Valentine’s Day so celebrate afterwards when restaurants, florists and supermarkets are more likely to have offers on.

The best things in life are free

Don’t get swayed by commercialisation. You can mark Valentine’s Day without spending a penny by arranging a romantic walk around a country park or local. Alternatively, you could write a poem or a love letter about how the special person in your life makes you feel – a total one-off gift.

Avatar of Caroline Chell

Caroline Chell

Caroline has worked in financial communications for more than 10 years, writing content on subjects such as pensions, mortgages, loans and credit cards, as well as stockbroking and investment advice.

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